WWF Royal Rumble
January 15, 1989
The current WWF Champs were as follows:
World Champion: Randy Savage (3/27/1988)
Intercontinental Champion: Ultimate Warrior (8/29/1988)
World Tag Team Champions: Demolition (3/27/1988)
Women’s Champion: Rockin’ Robin (10/7/1988)
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse Ventura! For some reason, Jesse’s dressed like Rocky Balboa when he’s down on his luck.
- The Hart Foundation & Jim Duggan vs. The Rougeau Brothers & Dino Bravo (w/ Jimmy Hart & Frenchie Martin) – 2/3 Falls
I’m sure you can probably figure out who is feuding with who here. What’s up with one of the Royal Rumble banners that’s hanging from the ceiling? It keeps on moving back and forth for some reason. Sorry, meaningless observation. Neidhart and Bravo get into a strong man competition to start, or competitión if you’re French like Dino. As you might expect, Bravo loses that battle because he’s the nasty heel who can’t seem to ever get the upperhand on those little standoffs. Duggan gets tagged in, so Bravo runs for his corner and tags in Raymond. Duggan catches him for a slam and delivers the OLD GLORY knee drop. Tag to Bret, who cradles Raymond up for two. Sunset flip gets another nearfall, as does a crossbody. Jacques tags and does that awesome back flip over Bret, but gets nailed with a clothesline. Bret corners Jacques and then his teammates come in to help, but wind up all getting cornered as Anvil runs in to grind them all up together in the corner with his shoulder. Order is restored, and Raymond pulls the rope down to cause Bret to fly out on the floor. Back in, Bravo delivers the SIDE SUPLEX! Doesn’t cover though and instead, tags the Rougeaus so they can give Bret the LA BOMBE DE ROUGEAU. Cover, 1-2-3 (5:26 – Rougeaus/Bravo – 1 Harts/Duggan – 0) The Rougeaus continue the punishment on Bret , but can’t quite finish him off. During Jacques’ Quebec crab, Bret makes it to his corner to set up the false-tag spot. Unbelievable! Man, what I would give to see a Lane/Eaton Midnight Express take on the Rougeaus. Such an underrated tag team, I tell you what. Jacques tries the Monkey Flip out of the corner, but Bret puts on the brakes and counters with an inverted atomic drop. HOT TAG TO DUGGAN! He goes wild on the heels. Slam to Raymond sets up a slingshot splash for Neidhart. Anvil shoulderblocks Bravo down while Duggan slingshots Bret in on Raymond. Duggan covers, because he’s the LEGAL man, for the 1-2-3. (12:57 – Rougeaus/Bravo – 1 Harts/Duggan – 1) Duggan stays on top of Raymond, but his tag team inexperience shines through or as Jesse would call it: stupidity shines through. Both are valid points. Just as I finish that last sentence, Bravo lets his stupidity shine through and atomic drops Duggan into the Harts corner for a tag to Bret. He hits a backbreaker on Bravo, but Raymond shoves him off the ropes when he tries the elbow drop. We get a pier-six brawl out of that, so Duggan whacks Bravo with his 2×4. Bret covers for 1-2-3. (17:02 – Harts/Duggan – 2 Rougeaus/Bravo – 1) I like it. I’d prefer this over a Bravo/Duggan singles match, which would’ve probably been the alternative. ***
Over in the Royal Rumble entry-picking room, there seems to be some funny business between DiBiase and Slick. What else happens? Oh, the Bushwhackers trade numbers, Honky Tonk’s PISSED at his number, Bad News’ number is good news, Demolition have a long night ahead of them, Jake doesn’t care what his number is as long as Andre is in the ring with him, and the Rockers are all like, “good luck bro.”
It’s time for the ULLLLLLLTIMATE SUPER POSEDOWN! The contestants will be the IC Champ ULLLLLTIMATE Warrior and Rick Rude. Who are the judges you ask? Why, the Houston crowd of course! Each guy gets four chances to pose. Even though Rude obviously has the better definition, Warrior wins the pose down because he’s the face and Rude is hated by everyone. This eats up fifteen minutes of time people paid for, but it set up their WrestleMania V match with Rude attacking Warrior after the crowd picks Warrior to win the pose down.
- WWF Women’s Champion Rockin’ Robin vs. Judy Martin
Rockin’ Robin is Jake Roberts’ half-sister, Sam Houston’s actual sister, and may or may not have been fondled by her father and former wrestler/WCW executive Grizzly Smith. I’m not really sure who’s skinnier; Robin or Houston? Before the match begins, Sensational Sherri challenges the winner and then goes over to join Gorilla and Jesse in the announcers booth. Sherri is like Courtney Love on the mic, seriously. Judy Martin, by the way, is one of the Glamour Girls who had all those great matches with the Jumping Bomb Angels. Typical ’80s women’s match for the most part. Of course by that I mean here like it was in America. Anybody who hasn’t seen any Joshi (Japanese women’s wrestling) needs to YouTube some Manami Toyota for real. The crowd just really doesn’t care for this match. Regardless, it’s pretty decent with lots of nearfalls. Heck, they’re trying and there’s nothing botchy about it. Crossbody out of the corner from Robin gets the 1-2-3. (6:27) Sherri would never regain the women’s title and it would be forgotten about by summer. **
Sean Mooney, being the investigatory journalist that he is, questions the Slickster with his Twin Towers nearby to stir spit up. Slick just says it’s none of yo business and that’s that.
Meanwhile, Rude is pretty upset that he lost the pose down.
It’s Royal Rumble run-through promo time! Fuji speaks for his Powers of Pain, Elizabeth for her Mega Powers, and Jimmy Hart for Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine.
- King Haku vs. Harley Race
Is that Tugboat helping carry Haku out on his throne? Looks just like him if its not. Winner gets the crown AND Bobby Heenan. It’s heel vs. heel, so the crowd just kind of quietly watches sitting on their hands. Sadly, just like they did in the last match. Race starts off in total control of Haku with knee lifts and a suplex, but then he throws Haku out and ends up getting posted. Haku goes into Samoan offense mode and NO-SELLS headbutts from Race. He keeps punching anyway and gives Haku a Piledriver for two. Double-KO puts Race on the floor and Haku brings him back in with a suplex for two. He misses an elbow drop and then they go to the floor. Haku backdrops out of a piledriver attempt, but eventually Race gets it anyway. Back in, swinging neckbreaker gets two. Haku comes back with chops, but misses a flying splash. Race tries a flying headbutt, but nobody’s home. Both men are up and Race comes off the ropes and runs right into a THRUST KICK for the 1-2-3. (9:03) It’s no Tongan Death Grip, but it’ll do. Haku still has the crown and Bobby Heenan. That pretty much does it for Harley Race in the WWF. Even still, WCW signs him to wrestle. **¼
More Royal Rumble run-through promo time! Brutus Beefcake, Greg Valentine, Mr. Fuji and the Powers of Pain (again), Big John Studd, (brown-haired) Mr. Perfect, WWF champ Randy Savage, Ted DiBiase, Andre, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and Hulk Hogan (WWF champion Randy who?).
- The Rumble
Historically significant for being the first 30-man Royal Rumble, I guess. Two minutes elapse in between entries. It’s going to be a LONG night. Demolition Ax and Smash are the first two entrants. Instead of being all powsy wowsy with each other and waiting around, they start pounding on each other for two minutes until Andre enters in at #3. They double-team him as Mr. Perfect comes in at #4. Andre tosses out Smash, but Perfect and Ax still work over Andre. This was obviously before Perfect was being managed by Heenan. Ronnie Garvin draws #5 to come in for the triple-team on Andre. Greg Valentine enters in at #6 right before Andre tosses Garvin out. Now Perfect, Ax, and Valentine continue working on Andre. Jake Roberts draws #7 and everybody lets Andre and Jake go at it alone. Andre chokes on Jake for a good while and then tosses him out as Ron Bass with his new haircut after losing to Beefcake a week earlier on SNME enters the Rumble at #8. Bass and Ax slug it out while Valentine and Perfect go back to working on Andre. Shawn Michaels is #9 and the girls go wild! Ax takes a backdrop over the top rope from Perfect to be eliminated. Perfect tries to throw out Shawn too, but he skins-the-cat back in and nearly tosses Perfect out. Nobody sells the falling-over-the-top-rope sell quite like Perfect. Oh joy, #10 is Bushwhacker Butch. Just as he enters the ring, the REAL crowd reaction comes as Jake Roberts runs back down to ringside and tosses Damien into the ring. Andre sees the snake (how could he not? It’s HUGE!), freaks out, and eliminates himself! Well that takes cares of one of the favorites. After Jake accomplished that, he takes his snake and goes home.
Honky Tonk Man is the #11 entrant. He and future “Rhythm and Blues” partner Greg Valentine try to toss out Shawn. Tito Santana is #12. He pairs up with just the right guy in Mr. Perfect for a cool little segment. After that, Valentine and Santana go back and forth with each other on the ropes. Meanwhile, Bass and Perfect give Shawn a double-team suplex! Bad News Brown draws #13. Why was that good news again? Just as soon as he enters, Tito helps Butch throw out the Honky Tonk Man. Bad News messes around with Shawn until fellow Rocker Marty Jannetty runs down to be our #14 entrant. The Rockers get together and gives Ron Bass a double-dropkick over the top rope. Tito and Valentine go back at it as Tito catches him with a FLYING JALAPENO! Santana’s ready to get rid of Valentine, but he slips back in the ring and avoids elimination. Randy Savage sprints down to the ring to a HUGE pop at #15 and goes right after Bad News. Valentine cuts him off and tries to send him out, but Savage won’t have any of it. Oddly enough, Tito Santana who was cheated out of the IC title by Savage only three years earlier, helps the champ out in beating down Valentine. Just as the buzzer goes off for Arn Anderson at #16 to come down, Savage backdrops Valentine over the top rope to the floor. Even MORE odd, Arn and Savage team up and double-team elbow Shawn Michaels out of the ring! After that goes down, Jannetty pounds away on Anderson. Meanwhile, Tito and Butch try to eliminate Perfect. Tully Blanchard is #17 Wow, eight guys in there right now. Jannetty and Blanchard go to town on each other for a while. Perfect and Savage have a nice exchange, which would’ve been an amazing match if it had happened at the time. Anderson helps out Blanchard by giving Jannetty the SPINEBUSTER. See ya later, Marty! He’s gone thanks to the Brainbusters. Uh oh, Hulk Hogan is #18. Hulk dumps Perfect! Savage and Anderson dump Tito! Bad News and Hulk exchange some near-eliminations. The Brainbusters help Bad News out a little bit. Bushwhacker Luke enters in at #19. As Bad News stumbles past Butch, he tosses him out and leaves us with only one Bushwhacker. Thank God. It turns into Hulk and Savage getting double-teamed by the other four guys in the ring. You’ve got Bad News, Arn, Tully and Luke. Koko B. Ware draws #20 and has dropkicks for everyone but Hulk and Savage. Like an idiot, Arn goes up top and gets slammed down by Hulk. Koko was doing fine until he went after Hulk and easily gets dumped out to the floor. Short night for the bird brain. Hulk punches the Brainbusters away and sends Luke out to the floor. The Brainbusters go for a double-team clothesline on Hulk, but he ducks and clotheslines them both out.
Warlord comes in at #21, but Hulk sends him out as soon as he gets in the ring. While Bad News is trying to eliminate Savage, Hulk goes over and dumps them both out. Savage is FURIOUS! He points the finger in Hogan’s face and won’t listen to reason until Elizabeth to calm everything down. All of a sudden, Savage sticks his hand out to show everybody there’s no hard feelings and the Mega Powers embrace! All is well with the world, right? Bossman is #22. Hulk slams him, but Bossman gives him an corner avalanche and a Piledriver! You tell me which is more effective. Hogan avoids a splash though and tries to get rid of Bossman, but then Bossman’s partner Akeem enters the ring at #23. The double-team just proves too much even for Hulk and he gets eliminated. Hogan pulls Bossman out to the floor and beats him up all around ringside. Hogan’s butt buddy Brutus Beefcake draws #24 and takes on Akeem to even the score. Some refs try to restore order as the Twin Towers double-team Beefcake in the ring, but Hogan is there to pull the rope down as Bossman goes flying out to the floor. Those two battle all the way to the dressing room, which sets up the next couple months of house show main events. Akeem tries to eliminate Beefcake as the Red Rooster enters in at #25. They double-team the big guy until Barbarian comes in at #26 and ruins everything by breaking up what Rooster and Beefcake had going on. Beefcake and Barbarian square off while Akeem gives Taylor the 747 SPLASH. Big John Studd draws #27 and goes after Akeem. Hercules is the #28 entrant as the ring fills up with only one real talent who is stuck in a sad, sad gimmick better known as the Red Rooster. Lots of punching and rode-straddling goes down as Rick Martel enters in at #29. More of the same happens as Ted DiBiase comes down to be our #30 entrant. So Slick possibly sold him the #30 spot? What an idiot! DiBiase and Taylor have a nice little mini-match, but Rooster winds up Flair-Flipping out to the floor to be eliminated. DiBiase and his “slave” Hercules go at it. Beefcake saves DiBiase for some reason. He fights off a bearhug and hooks on the SLEEPER, so DiBiase sneaks up behind them and tosses them both out. Meanwhile, Barbarian gives Martel the running powerslam and heads up top for the FLYING HEADBUTT, which connects. Martel still manages to avoid a clothesline and dropkicks Barbarian out to be eliminated.
Final Four: Akeem, Big John Studd, Rick Martel and Ted DiBiase. Akeem and Martel square off, but Akeem catches Martel off a crossbody and dumps him out to the floor. You’ve got the previous year’s Rumble finish all over again – two heels (one including One Man Gang aka Akeem) and an oversized babyface. DiBiase and Akeem spend some time double-teaming Studd, but heel miscommunication ensues and Akeem gets dumped. That leaves a revived Studd all alone with DiBiase. He slams DiBiase around and even delivers a butterfly suplex! One clothesline later and Studd has DiBiase flying over the top rope to win the Royal Rumble. (65:07) Virgil attacks in defense of his boss, but gets thrown over the top rope as well. Kind of an anti-climatic Rumble in 2007. Still, this Rumble has its cool moments too. ***¼
Before we go, Savage and Liz reassure us all that everything is copasetic in the Mega Powers relationship. DIG IT! Of course, Jesse “Rocky Balboa” Ventura doesn’t buy it.
Final Thoughts: By today’s standards, people would look at Studd as a Royal Rumble winner and go “huh?” But part of the added drama to a Rumble match is that anybody has a chance at winning it and Studd was a huge part of the ’80s success as far as the WWF was concerned and that definitely matters. Now of course, this was before the winner went on to WrestleMania for a title shot – making a Rumble match win on its own an achievement no matter what happens at WrestleMania. But when you watch it in 2007, most people just won’t buy Big John Studd as the winner of a Rumble match. As for the undercard, Haku and Race isn’t really a feud people still talk about, the women’s match isn’t either, but the opener is worth a peek. I know I do this a lot, but I’m going with thumbs in the middle for this Royal Rumble 1989. Recommended show if you get your hands on a copy, but its not absolutely necessary viewing.